A SOLDIER'S GRAVE
I passed a soldier's grave today
And I kneeled and said a prayer.
I wondered if our country knew
How much this soldier cared.
I walked around the graveyard
Thinking of the sacrifice
Of those that gave us freedom
And in the battle lost their life.
How some had died so far away
While they served our country well,
How some of them died back at home
After surviving battle's hell.
In the distance I saw someone
Holding up a little flag,
Then they knelt and placed it
On the grave where I had prayed.
I heard them say "I love you",
Then they stood up straight and tall
And said "I'm proud to be the parent
Of a child that chanced it all."
I thought about this freedom
That can never be repaid,
And I thought about my only son
Not a soldier, but in a grave.
Although he died, I'm thankful,
And although his years were few,
While he lived upon this earth
It was "freedom" that he knew.
I possess this simple freedom
Just to walk amongst the graves,
And mourn the death of my own son,
Because of what a soldier gave.
© 2009 - Christine Ross
in memory of Lucas Christopher Ross 1979 - 2001
MAY 2010, Volume 25 No. 5
LIVING WITH LOSS magazine
Bereavement Publications, Inc.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.
Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.
~ Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, 1862
Memorial Day, which at the time was called Decoration Day,
was first observed on May 30, 1868,
when flowers were placed on the graves of
Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1831, Captain William Driver,
a shipmaster from Salem, Massachusetts,
left on one of his many world voyages.
Friends presented him with a flag of 24 stars.
As the banner opened to the ocean breeze, he exclaimed, "Old Glory."
He kept his flag for many years, protecting it during the Civil War,
until it was flown over the Tennessee capital.
His "Old Glory" became a nickname for all American flags.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation.
~Henry Ward Beecher
For love of country they accepted death...
~James A. Garfield
And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
On thy grave the rain shall fall
from the eyes of a mighty nation!
~Thomas William Parsons
They fell, but o'er their glorious grave
the banner of the cause they died to save.
~Francis Marion Crawford
The brave die never, though they sleep in dust:
Their courage nerves a thousand living men.
~Minot J. Savage
They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast,
And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
And they who for their country die
shall fill an honored grave,
for glory lights the soldier's tomb,
and beauty weeps the brave.
The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree.
Better than honor and glory, and History's iron pen,
Was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow-men.
~Richard Watson Gilder
A hero is someone who has given his or her life
to something bigger than oneself.
Who kept the faith and fought the fight;
The glory theirs, the duty ours.
Our battle-fields, safe in the keeping
Of Nature's kind, fostering care,
Are blooming, - our heroes are sleeping, -
And peace broods perennial there.
~John H. Jewett
These heroes are dead. They died for liberty - they died for us.
They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free,
under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines,
the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.
They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds,
careless alike of sunshine or of storm,
each in the windowless Place of Rest.
Earth may run red with other wars - they are at peace.
In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict,
they found the serenity of death.
I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:
cheers for the living; tears for the dead.
~Robert G. Ingersoll
The dead soldier's silence sings our national anthem.
Our cheer goes back to them, the valiant dead!
Laurels and roses on their graves to-day,
Lilies and laurels over them we lay,
And violets o'er each unforgotten head.
But fame is theirs - and future days
On pillar'd brass shall tell their praise;
Shall tell - when cold neglect is dead -
"These for their country fought and bled."
"Dead upon the field of glory,"
Hero fit for song and story.
~John Randolph Thompason
We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers,
but to praise them.
~Francis A. Walker
Are they dead that yet speak louder than we can speak,
and a more universal language? Are they dead that yet act?
Are they dead that yet move upon society
and inspire the people with nobler motives
and more heroic patriotism?
~Henry Ward Beecher
Forget me not